Crop Biotech Update

Tannins in Sorghum for Health and Nutrition

July 13, 2012

The presence of tannins in sorghum provides a natural chemical defense against bird predators and bacterial and fungal attacks. Tannins also has high antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and UV protective functions that promote human health, and could be used to fight obesity because they reduce digestibility. However, tannins also possess a bitter taste and decrease protein digestibility and feed efficiency in humans and livestock.

A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) revealed the cloning of the tannin gene in sorghum. Tannins may also be associated with cold tolerance, a key agronomic trait to improve sorghum.

The authors believe that knowledge of tannins in biosynthesis pathways can be used to generate lines that produce high-content tannins in sorghum and other cereals to promote health through their unique nutritional properties. The research coupled with nutritional and medical research could also open possibility of producing different levels and combinations of phenolic compounds to promote human health.

See the news story at http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/news/story/tannins_sorghum071112.aspx.